Posted on March 8, 2021
On Monday, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal and his staff did their part to fortify the future of Oregon football, as Gordo (Ala.) four-star quarterback Tanner Bailey announced his verbal commitment to the Ducks.
— Tanner Bailey (@t_bailey5) March 8, 2021
Ranked as the ninth-best pro-style quarterback in the country per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, Bailey is the first (and likely only) quarterback to commit to the Ducks’ 2022 recruiting class, which currently features commitments from a total of five four-star prospects.
Bailey also represents a growing contingent of players that have found their way from the Deep South to Eugene since the Cristobal era got underway prior to the 2018 season. In fact, Bailey is the fifth player in the last four recruiting cycles from the state of Alabama to pledge to the Ducks, joining Trikweze Bridges (2019), DJ James (2019), Jayson Jones (2020), and fellow quarterback Robby Ashford (2020).
Having earned a total of 21 offers to this point in the recruiting process, Bailey chose Oregon over a trio of SEC programs in Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi State. With his commitment, the Ducks have risen to 17th in 247Sports’ Composite Team Rankings for the 2022 recruiting cycle.
Below we take a closer look at Bailey’s game, examining his weaknesses and strengths, as well as projecting how he may make an impact for the Ducks when he ultimately arrives on campus.
• Lacks ideal size: Checking in at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Bailey resides on the shorter end of the spectrum as it relates to playing the quarterback position at the collegiate level. His lack of size shouldn’t serve as a significant deterrent as it relates to future success, as plenty of short quarterbacks have prospered in college and beyond, but it does reduce his margin for error when competing against taller, more physically imposing players at the position.
• Average athlete: More so than his lack of size at the position, Bailey’s limited athleticism is something that could hamstring him as he looks to climb the depth chart at Oregon. Though he moves well in the pocket and can elude pressure with some success, he’s not a particularly dynamic athlete who will make defenses pay on designed runs or when flushed from the pocket.
• Throws decisively with good timing, touch: It’s clear on film that Bailey has a good feel for playing quarterback. A natural thrower, Bailey demonstrates decisiveness when delivering the football to his receivers, often throwing tight spirals that are catchable and on time. He has presence in the pocket and shows a willingness to stand in the face of pressure and put the ball where it needs to be.
• Good arm strength: Bailey may not have the rocket strapped to his right shoulder that 2021 signee Ty Thompson possesses, but he’s a strong armed passer who can challenge opposing defenses to all areas of the field. Delivers the football with great pace and accuracy.
• Adept throwing on the move, off-platform: Bailey’s baseball background really shines through when he throws on the move. Whether it’s designed rollouts or plays when he’s forced to make things right when everything else goes wrong, Bailey is comfortable throwing off-platform with accuracy when moving to both his right and left.
With Tyler Shough and Cale Millen departing from the program this offseason, and with projected starter Anthony Brown entering his final season of eligibility in 2021, the Ducks needed to add at least one member to the quarterback room heading into the 2022 season.
With the verbal commitment of Tanner Bailey, Oregon at the very least has secured some quality depth in the event there is more attrition between now and the fall of 2022.
By the time Bailey is expected to arrive in Eugene, the Ducks could have as many as three quarterbacks on the roster who are redshirt freshmen or sophomores in terms of their eligibility in Jay Butterfield, Robby Ashford, and Ty Thompson.
And given the eligibility log jam forming at the position, it wouldn’t be a surprise to inevitably see at least one of those aforementioned players hit the transfer portal in search of a less crowded quarterback room. However, there are silver linings for Bailey regardless of whichever scenario plays out.
Should Butterfield, Ashford, and Thompson all be on the roster by the time Bailey gets to Eugene, the opportunity is there for Bailey to compete with all three without necessarily having the pressure of winning the job and assuming so much responsibility as a true freshman.
Additionally, a redshirt year in the program may be the best thing for Bailey, who still has some developing to do before being completely unleashed.
On the other hand, should the Ducks see one or more transfers from the quarterback room prior to the 2022 season, Bailey could be thrust into a position where he sees the field much quicker than anticipated projecting ahead.
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